Representation Matters 

When I was in sixth grade I read a cheesy book about a couple of girls whose parents were attorneys. I was intrigued by the idea of court cases, the amount of reading they had to do, and how they went up and defended their case. I told myself I wanted to do that with no idea how. I don’t remember ever seeing many womxn of Color I could look up to personally or knew from a larger platform.

In seventh grade, my counselor wrote “lawyer” down as what I wanted to be when I grew up. She hesitantly wrote it down, hoping I would change my mind before inking the reality I wanted. In eighth grade, the next counselor chuckled, “lawyer huh?” and asked, “Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” I wasn’t. I didn’t even fully comprehend what being an attorney meant, but the idea of fighting for justice has always been a dream.

I grew up attending predominately White schools not knowing any successful person of Color or one who had a college degree.

To Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, thank you for being the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court, the aspiration to become an attorney or even judge doesn’t seem impossible now.

I realize that there are a lot of young womxn like me who felt as though they were never represented on any platform. It wasn’t until high school that I learned about Sandra Cisneros . Her writing made me come to life because she depicted a similar childhood to mine that I never read in other books. Seeing her writing inspired me to keep writing my truth.

My senior year in high school I heard a professor unapologetically tell her story of growing up in poverty. She spoke about her family struggling and her single mom. She was honest and I saw myself in her. I saw that the struggles she lived through did not make her. She did not sugar coat the difficulties she faced as a womxn of color or how she was questioned. I saw myself being able to do the same someday.

To Dr. Theresa Martinez, thank you for being a professor in an institution that is predominantly white and for showing us that we don’t have to be like them to succeed. Our stories are powerful and our work matters.

My first year of college I met young womxn who also lacked personal role models but, wanted to become them. Today they are teachers. They are nurses. They are engineers. They are attorneys.  They are letting future womxn know that they too can achieve their dreams. So, I wanted to make a list of some womxn who have made an impact in my life, and as I find more, I want to expand the list to remind other mujeres that we are powerful.

First the personal. Thank you, Clarissa, or better, Ms. Clarissa, for teaching kids from a young age to believe in their abilities and understand that their efforts matter. As a Latina teacher, young girls will see themselves in you and will understand it is possible. Thank you, Minerva, for being a familiar face as a nurse because hospitals are scary but even more when someone doesn’t speak your language.

To Luz Escamilla, thank you for being the First Latina in the Utah Senate, and for actually representing your district.

To Nellie Gorbea, the Rhode Island Secretary of State, you are one of those that made history by being the first Latinas elected in a high position of power. Meeting you and being able to personally interact with you reminds me that even in those positions, you can stay down to earth, and make a difference.

To Astrid Silva and Erika Andiola thank you for voicing your undocumented and unapologetic selves into main stream political platforms showing that we are here, and here to stay. Thank you for constantly pushing for issues that affect our communities and refusing to back down.

To Cristina Jimenez, from United We Dream, thank you for helping create an organization that empowers and demonstrates what youth immigrants can do. 

To Zahira Kelly thank you for always making sure the world doesn’t erase the Afro-Latina narrative and for spreading your art and writing into the world that needs it.

To Prisca Dorca and Latina Rebels, thank you for being unapologetic and inspiring me to do the same

To Yesika Salgado thank you for being a writer that is true, raw, and honestly magical.

To Johanna from The Unapologetically Brown Series, and Denise from SugarxSpice thank you for writing your unapologetic selves into this world because we need more Womxn of Color writers.

To Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, when we say we need representation in Washington, we mean womxn like yourselves who speak up for what they believe in.

To Ana Navarro as a contributor to major media outlets, your unapologetic opinions and truth make people the kind of uncomfortable that brings change and is inspiring.

To Maria Hinojosa, your segments as the host on Latino’s USA continues to show the importance we have in this country.

To Maria Teresa Kumar, your story, work ethic, and drive to push more Latinx’s to vote inspires me. Voto Latino is a platform made by young people for young people in a way that is relevant to our generation.

To Diane Guerrero and Gina Rodriguez thank you for being true representatives in the film industry and for choosing roles that don’t diminish  Latinas. For Jane the Virgin and for being honest advocates for our Latinx and immigrant communities.

To Laurie Hernandez, as a gold medal winning Olympic gymnast, you are a reminder that our power spreads to every part of life, and we should be proud of that.

To Daisy Marquez, Dulce Candy, Amanda Diaz, Marina Preciado and other MakeUp Artists thank you because your highlights are not the only thing that shines.

This is not a comprehensive list, nor meant to be close to it. I know there are a lot more Afro-Latinxs to highlight, more Black womxn to add, and other Womxn of Color who are making a huge impact that may not be as visible. This is also not saying that there is enough representation of Latinx womxn in main stream media, politics, sports arena, or even in our daily lives. This is to highlight that there are so many womxn who are creating paths for young womxn like me.

To all the powerful womxn I have yet to find out about, thank you because you are creating meaningful change. I hope to find out about you soon and add to the list of womxn who inspire me. Representation in every part of our lives matters because I can see myself in you. I can see my struggle in yours. I can see that I too can aspire to whatever I wish the same way you did.

To all my beautiful queens thank you for spreading your magic. Thank you for being unapologetic in your existence and journey. Despite the hate and setbacks that each of you has faced, you pursue forward in your respective careers and fields. To the Black and Brown womxn who have paved the way, thank you for pushing forward, even when you didn’t have the road cleared.

–Ciriac Isbeth.


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